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A calm day, hooray!

23 June 2017

While what seems like the rest of the UK basks in glorious sunshine, us folk on St Kilda are battling with the elements.  Even on a blue sky day when it seems relatively settled in Village Bay it is gusting hard at the cliff edges making it tricky to steady the scope (and myself!) to count guillemots that are squeezed together on ledges, as well as securing the precious plot photographs and trying to keep a notebook from flying away!Blue sky but very windy 2017Guillemot plot 2017

Calm days have been few this month but on Tuesday morning I awoke not to the sound of the wind whistling around the building but to birds tweeting outside.  What? Surely not? A calm day, with no wind - hooray!  The bay was flat calm, there hadn’t been a drop of rain for 24 hours and the sky looked like the clouds would clear – perfect conditions for a trip to Dun.  Hirta from Dun 2017

Kilda Cruises happily gave me a lift over to the landing spot (thank you!) and I had a couple of hours to find burrows, particularly difficult given the length of vegetation!  I checked lots but couldn’t feel an adult or egg in many of them, that doesn’t mean to say they were empty – I could hear the pitter-patter of feet or cheep of a chick inside some - it’s just that they were beyond the reach of my arm.  Of the 30 burrows where the contents were within my reach, 20 contained chicks and 10 contained an adult still incubating an egg.   Puffling nestled in vegetation 2-17Puffling at the entrance of a burrow 2017

This first visit was about a month overdue which unfortunately means I won’t be able to calculate a productivity value for the season.  Accessing the island is difficult and there's certainly not much we can do about the weather, no matter how much we want to. All is not lost though as I hope to get back to Dun in a few weeks to remeasure the chicks before they fledge as this should provide some data about growth and body condition.Puffin returning to burrow 2017

What a difference a day makes and we’re back to mist, rain and strong winds with the prospect of any settled weather looking slim for a fair few days.   No boats in the bay today but no mist either so I took a stroll to see what was happening along the village
a few late lambs have been born in June and it's always fun to watch their antics as they run and jump about the place, our 'resident' swan is still wandering amongst the meadows, and starlings, wheatears and wrens are busy feeding their young.Late lamb 2017The resident swan 2017Evening strolls along the street 2017

Of course, there is still plenty to do when I can’t access the hills.  Sometimes all staff are needed to lend a hand with visitor services, particularly when a large cruise stops by. The poor weather also gives me time to transcribe data, catch up on paperwork and write this entry for the Ranger’s Diary!NTS cruise ship in Village Bay 2017


Last of the 2017's Work Parties

23 June 2017



This is just a short and sweet post to thank the second work party for all their hard work. Indeed the island is looking better than ever thanks to the efforts of both work parties.

The watercourses are flowing,Craig1Craig2An Lag finally unleashed last weekend, what a sight! Our watercourses did their job perfectly, no flooding in the houses and The Street remained mostly clear of rushing water!


the soil store is heaped,Craig3

Look at that beautiful pile! Soil is quite the commodity on St Kilda, we need it desperately for our turf roofs and we can’t bring any on to the island. This will rot down nicely over winter.

turf roofs are patched,Craig4Craig5Patching the last two years of turf roof repair is instrumental to the success of the repair itself. Hence the need for soil!

drystone walls are rebuiltCraig6Craig7Stone for stone repair of the Glebe Wall behind the Manse. It’s quite the complex jigsaw puzzle!


museum is spotless,Craig8Museum clean involves taking many of the artefacts out of their displays and giving them a good dusting. Always exciting to handle the same material used by the St Kildans!

and the archaeologist is happy!Craig9Taking a break between Cleit Monitoring up on Oiseval.

The work parties have taken their various roads home, and they leave with our thanks!Craig10

Cheers for now,


St Kilda Archaeologist

Previous Entries

14 June 2017Looking out instead of in
8 June 2017Seabirds + poor weather in June = difficult times
1 June 2017Hello Goodbye and Hello!
12 May 2017Where does the time go?!
8 May 2017Lovely Week and the End of Black House H
27 April 2017An Archaeotastic First Week on St Kilda
4 November 2016European Eels at St Kilda
5 October 2016A spectacular sunset!
3 October 2016World War 1 survivals
26 September 2016Further thoughts on Blackhouse H
25 September 2016Blackhouse H repair
16 September 2016UNESCO map project
12 September 2016A piano on St Kilda 2 -The Lost Songs of St Kilda
9 September 2016Last cruise boat of the year
8 September 2016A piano on St Kilda 1 - The Lost Songs of St Kilda
5 September 2016What a difference a day makes....
2 September 2016Both ends of the day
30 August 2016Evacuation Anniversary
29 August 2016Day Boats at Boreray
26 August 2016By-the-wind sailors
24 August 2016Marine life
12 August 2016Summer Storm
22 July 2016Arctic skuas
18 July 2016Beach clean
6 July 2016Swooping skuas
28 June 2016'The St Kilda Challenge'
27 June 2016Love our islands
21 June 2016Work Party
21 June 2016
17 June 2016Cranes, tanks and biosecurity
7 June 2016Tattooed on the heart
25 May 2016Visitors bearing gifts
13 May 2016Visitors start arriving
4 May 2016Stormy days and repairs
28 April 2016We're back!
20 November 2015Flurries and farewell
18 November 2015Full circle
13 November 2015Abigail
30 October 2015Puffins in peril
8 October 2015Eyes to the sky!
29 September 2015September for the seabird warden
22 September 2015Cleit Galz!
19 September 2015The EAA Comes to St Kilda.
28 August 2015Exodus
28 August 2015August's (sea)bird and marine life
25 August 2015A hello from some old friends.
13 August 2015Photographing the Hidden Cleit landscape.
10 August 2015St Swithin comes to St Kilda........
3 August 2015Research throws up further insight into life on St Kilda
1 August 2015Seabird and marine summary for July
27 July 2015Back after three busy weeks off
22 July 2015It's that time of year again...
3 July 2015Checking on the puffins
2 July 2015Summer weather causes flooding
1 July 2015Goodbye and thanks Work Party Three
28 June 2015Bothered by a bonxie in Village Bay
26 June 2015Thoughtless actions cause conservation impact
24 June 2015Goodbye and thanks Work Party Two!
17 June 2015Mid season in a puffin colony
17 June 2015Gannet Rescue!
15 June 2015Shearwater surprise
13 June 2015First glimpse
11 June 2015American visitor
10 June 2015A cleaner beach
8 June 2015World Oceans Day
7 June 2015Oystercatcher chicks
5 June 2015Walking in the Village may never be the same again.
5 June 2015Tablets Old and New
4 June 2015Better late than never
31 May 2015Mixed up May
29 May 2015'A' Team at Work
28 May 2015Eider
27 May 2015Swallow sadness
27 May 2015Busy,busy.........
26 May 2015Scrapes
24 May 2015Boxes are in
23 May 2015Soay snuggles
20 May 2015A St Kilda Cruise
16 May 2015Shop stocked, where are the people?
15 May 2015Puffins and people
15 May 2015Bonxie at peace with the world (for once).....
15 May 2015How the other half live........
14 May 2015Passing through
12 May 2015Unsettled
7 May 2015Conserving the Ferguson Memorial
27 April 2015Four seasons
25 April 2015Nest box preparations
24 April 2015Slaters start the season
22 April 2015Boring Stuff....
22 April 2015Rare bird!
21 April 2015Gaggle of geese
20 April 2015Clear sky and optimism
17 April 2015Northern (de)lights
16 April 2015Welcome!
15 April 2015Rainbow
9 April 2015St Kilda skua sighted at Skokholm
7 April 2015Seabird ranger on migration
1 April 2015Able to save marine mammals, hope I don't have to!
27 March 2015Training for a new season
15 February 2015Give a bird a home
7 January 2015Happy New Year!
4 December 2014And..... I'm off!
11 November 2014Armistice Day
7 November 2014Dreich
14 October 2014Fowl day
12 October 2014UK fungus day
10 October 2014What are YOU doing here?
9 October 2014A colourful week
7 October 2014Sunset
6 October 2014After the storm
5 October 2014First big storm of the season
4 October 2014Redwings have arrived, it must be autumn.
1 October 2014Squib's getting BIG!
28 September 2014It's shearwater time again
26 September 2014Coffee and cake
24 September 2014A changing forecast
23 September 2014Last visitors of the season
9 September 2014Out of Africa
5 September 2014Canadian ringed plover - an update
2 September 2014Visitor from Canada
30 August 2014Skua squabbles
30 August 201484th Anniversary of the Evacuation
27 August 2014Rat Watch
27 August 2014Washing instructions?
24 August 2014Puddle, Squeak and Squib!
23 August 2014Wombling
15 August 2014Ruff times
12 August 2014Military Memories
12 August 2014Volunteers
4 August 2014Bye bye sea parrots, see you next year!
31 July 2014Chick in a box
31 July 2014Wooly thinking.
30 July 2014Easy to hear, tricky to see
28 July 2014Fluffy hug
26 July 2014First puffling of the year
25 July 2014Goodbye Work Party Three!
25 July 2014Great year for puffins
24 July 2014Goodbye Work Party Two!
20 July 2014Half a fish?
19 July 2014An utterly ridiculous amount of puffins!
19 July 2014Summer Secrets!
17 July 2014Youngsters
16 July 2014Wren in the hand
14 July 2014Tysties at the Tunnel
8 July 2014Queen's Baton visits St Kilda
22 June 2014Beach clean
20 June 2014Goodbye Work Party One!
10 June 2014Nest in a box
7 June 2014Puffin selfie
7 June 2014Bats!
1 June 2014From Norfolk to Hirta
30 May 2014Churring chucking petrels
28 May 2014Mark a burrow
24 May 2014One swallow does not a summer make. And neither do three or four!
23 May 2014Wind and an assortment of birds
21 May 2014High rise nester
19 May 2014'Digs' on St Kilda (and I don't mean excavations!)
17 May 2014Where can I see a puffin?
16 May 2014Orcas
13 May 2014Colour rings
12 May 2014A stinky Sunday!
11 May 2014First stroll of the season
9 May 2014And me makes three!
3 May 2014Flight to St Kilda
2 May 2014Getting Ready for Another Season
10 October 2013Autumn Activity
25 September 2013Sowerby's beaked whale
23 September 2013A few firsts
23 September 2013Jellyfish
4 September 2013Rainy Day Transformation in Village Bay
30 August 2013Uist trio return to St Kilda
30 August 2013Archaeologist’s not-at-all-definitive Top 5 Cleitean!
26 August 2013Campers no longer abandoned....
15 August 2013“…little stone houses, of which there are some hundreds”
5 August 2013Gannets
1 August 2013Expect the Unexpected.....Lammas Lamb!
26 July 2013On the Wild Side.
26 July 2013Slipway Refurbishment
26 July 2013A cleaner beach
25 July 2013A Very St Kildan Commodity – The Tulmar
4 July 2013Goodbye Work Party Three!
28 June 2013Goodbye Work Party Two!
18 June 2013Perspectives on a puffin survey
17 June 2013Won't need the ID book for this....
16 June 2013White-beaked dolphin washed ashore
13 June 2013Challenging Times
13 June 2013Goodbye Work Party One!
28 May 2013Confessions of a dry stane dyker
11 May 2013Hiort – Innse Fàiltiche / Hirta – the Welcoming Isle
1 May 2013Gimme Shelter!
25 April 2013Return of the almost Native
21 November 2012Tup lovin'
11 November 2012A time to remember
10 November 2012Responsible Tourism Award
2 November 2012Waxwing
16 October 2012Last visitors?
6 October 2012Nightly strolls for shearwaters
3 October 2012How many sheep are there?
18 September 2012Common dolphins
11 September 2012Pristine sea?
11 September 2012That's All Folks (from the Ranger)
9 September 2012How did the puffins do this year?
1 September 2012New Management Plan!
31 August 2012Turas Tony
28 August 2012Tuna
24 August 2012Minke whale
16 August 2012Pufflings
16 August 2012Connecting with visitors
6 August 2012Secret St Kilda
1 August 2012Filming the experience
1 August 2012Kayakers return to St Kilda
22 July 2012Snowy owl
18 July 2012Downtown St Kilda
16 July 2012Change in the weather
13 July 2012Film crew
11 July 2012ENORMOUS lobster
11 July 2012NTS cruise ship
10 July 2012Finding bonxie nests hurts my head!
9 July 2012Village fulmars
5 July 2012Good luck returns!
5 July 2012St Kilda dandelion
5 July 2012Coastguard exercises
4 July 2012Working holidays
4 July 2012Comings and goings
4 July 2012Beach clean 2012
28 June 2012Surveying shearwaters
26 June 2012Drought
22 June 2012Bike4Baghdad
10 June 2012Supplies
4 June 2012First Month on St Kilda!
3 June 2012Jubilee celebrations
3 June 2012Hottest place in the UK? Celebs? St Kilda is the place to be!
31 May 2012Puffin productivity - first, mark a burrow
31 May 2012St Kilda Work Party 1
22 May 2012What view?
20 May 2012Peek-a-puffin
17 May 2012Eggstra
16 May 2012Big seas at the Tunnel
15 May 2012Lambing success
14 May 2012Splash of colour on a grey day
13 May 2012Watch out on the hills!
6 May 2012Up with the wrens
4 May 2012April showers
3 May 2012Students help with the 'petrel project'
2 May 2012What birds have we seen?
25 April 2012White-tailed (sea) eagle (& update)
22 April 2012To the sea!
21 April 2012Back for another summer
8 April 2012It's Easter and time to decorate an egg
7 April 2012A new season has begun
21 March 2012New thoughts on an old gun
29 January 2012Using technology to 'reconstruct' blackhouse G
26 January 2012Puffins in the Puffinn – a work of art, but who was the artist?
13 January 2012St Kilda mail washes up on Norway
22 December 2011Top award
7 December 2011Wind, rain, hail and snow – winter time on Kilda
7 December 2011Seals sing
20 November 2011Love is in the air (sheep rut)
13 November 2011On St Kilda, We Remember
3 November 2011Chopper moves blocks
1 November 2011Fright night!
30 October 2011Smallest seabird in the world
30 October 2011Tangled
5 October 2011From the west
2 October 2011Found a shearwater
1 October 2011Fog and radio hams
24 September 2011Colour on a grey day
16 September 2011Petrels and mice
15 September 2011Birds passing through
13 September 2011Water and waves
12 September 2011Arctic skua breeding success
12 September 2011Summer is at an end
29 August 2011A busy season of seabird surveys
14 August 2011Nine sheep on a cleit
5 August 2011Artists and culture
13 July 2011St Kilda summer
26 June 2011Work Parties farewell
26 June 2011Village Bay's stone tools
20 June 2011Colourful skuas
19 June 2011Counting birds
7 June 2011
5 June 2011Busy boats
25 May 2011Kilda sunrise
23 May 2011Some unexpected visitors
17 May 2011Kilda Rocks
13 May 2011Lots of lambs
13 May 2011Some unusual birds
9 May 2011Over the sea from Skye
8 May 2011Then there were two
30 April 2011Royal Wedding Day on St Kilda
27 April 2011Back with the Swallows
7 October 2010At the end of the day
3 September 2010Round up of the season
21 August 2010An ancient gift to the fairies?
14 July 2010Calling all Kilda experts
12 July 2010Another Blow In
23 June 2010Getting back
3 June 2010settling in
30 April 2010I'm just here (Archaeologist )
20 April 2010I'm Back!
1 September 2009Breath of winter
29 August 2009St Kilda Day
14 July 2009It's a hard life.
7 July 2009Breeding Birds
2 July 2009Birds Birds Everywhere!
18 June 2009Here they come...
13 June 2009Beachclean 2009
15 May 2009Death From Above!!!
10 October 2008And now, the end is near…….
29 September 2008Shutting up shop
28 August 2008Puffling Round-Up
6 August 2008Hiding places, old and new
17 July 2008BACK TO NORMAL
25 June 2008Water, water everywhere…….
9 June 2008Things have hotted up and dried up
31 May 2008The excitement of stray visitors
28 May 2008A month of firsts for the archaeologist
25 April 2008First impressions - It's All Gone Green
16 April 2008Spring migrants
5 February 2008Rat threat to St Kilda
16 January 2008Manse Mysteries
6 December 2007Remembrance Service
26 September 2007Last words
23 September 2007Found already!!!
17 September 2007I name this ship.....
8 September 2007Sheep catch 2007
30 August 2007Ups and downs in the seabird season
13 August 2007Cleit of the week...
10 August 2007Nights at Carn Mor
25 July 2007Walls, walls, walls
12 July 2007Anyone for a glass of Revoltosa?
22 June 2007Bonxie chicks & Brocken spectres - First impressions from the Petrel-Skua Team
8 June 2007Sad end for a fulmar
24 May 2007New archaeological survey of St Kilda
2 May 2007Springtime on Kilda
16 April 2007Rocks away!
2 April 2007A 50th Celebration
6 February 2007A winter wonderland
26 September 2006Another season over
25 September 2006Last visitors of the season
11 September 2006The hop, skip and a jump to Dun
5 September 2006“I’ve started so I’ll finish”
28 August 2006Big red boats
19 August 2006Fine dining, blood, sweat, and tears
9 August 2006Puffins, Kittiwakes and other news
12 July 2006Seabirds, belly dancing and Viking snails
15 June 2006The Army Invade St Kilda
2 May 2006We're back!!! St Kilda 2006
21 October 2005The 75th Anniversary mailboat has been found!!!
8 September 2005Now that’s entertainment (magic)
1 September 2005The 75th Anniversary of the last evacuation of islanders from St Kilda, August 29th 2005
30 August 2005Norman Gillies and Family return
12 August 2005Wacky races
4 August 2005'Christopher' Wren Inspects Work On Hirta Kirk
25 July 2005Poor year for puffins
15 July 2005New Gaelic Bible for the Kirk
8 July 2005Working the night shift at St Kilda’s petrel station
28 June 2005The view from my window
20 June 2005Archaeology goes down the drain
16 June 2005End of an Era for St Kilda archaeology
8 June 2005John, Paul, Ringo and Toastcrumb
2 June 2005Normal service is resumed...
21 September 2004Still over 60 knots
21 September 2004And so to bed..
7 September 2004What a difference a day makes..
6 September 2004By Royal Appointment
30 August 200429th August 1930
21 August 2004Soay sheep research
12 August 2004A lucky escape
9 August 2004Repairing the Dry Burn
26 July 2004Digging for fairies
1 July 2004First catch your bonxie....